shake that cola drag

The office-block persecution affinity.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Rachael made Brent a birthday cake. Look at all the decoration effort! She rules.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Appropriately dorky happy anniversary photo: Memphis, January 2002, outside the best club ever, Raiford's Hollywood! We had been married two months. (Less happy dorky note: the signage takes on an extra layer of meaning when you walk around the corner to the Lorraine Motel, where MLK was assassinated.)

Brent and I got married three years ago today! (So, coincidentally, did Lawrence and Vanessa. Woo!) I was looking at the photos this afternoon and was struck by how, if you look closely, our supposedly 'solemn' vow-taking shot has captured our desperation in trying not to laugh at our weird faux-televangelist Las Vegas minister. Hee!

It's very hard to avoid massive dollops of soppy cheese on days like these. I will limit myself to telling you just one reason why my husband rules: although he is so funny and irreverent, he is also unfailingly polite and kind to and respectful of and interested in the conversation of older people. He talks and cackles away with my mother for hours, and is always entertained - or pretends to be - by the lengthy pontifications of my Irish grandfather. I know he thinks feisty little old ladies, in general, are the coolest, and loves to tell stories about them. (Thank you, Granny.) You can literally take him anywhere to talk to anyone, because he's such a sweet, people-oriented person.

That may seem like a weird or trivial thing to describe. But it means a lot to me.

OK, /sappiness!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Weekend update, with apologies to Saturday Night Live: Lawrence and Vanessa and Brent and I went to the Nikau Cafe on Saturday. It's in the Waitakeres and has amazing views across Auckland. Even the Sky Tower looks puny! I realised upon their arrival to pick us up that my entire house is actually a gigantic dusty cobweb engorged with pet hair and that our broken vacuum cleaner must be replaced immediately. (Americans, decent - by which I mean pet-hair-attacking - vacuum cleaners in NZ are incredibly expensive, like many hundreds of dollars. I don't know why. It's like shoes and mobile phones. For some reason these particular businesspeople want to charge you through the nose. 'It's rape!', as Granny used to say.) Ellie flailed in her usual ridiculous way and Lawrence was blinded enough by his own canine fetish to call her beautiful. He is mad. We zoomed off to Cathy's birthday party in the late afternoon and sat in the sun in the back garden, awash in the scent of orange-blossom, eating exciting nibbles (dolma! rice balls! that organic walnut dip you get at the supermarket!) and listening to the Polynesian church gathering singing over the fence next door. However we couldn't stay long as the Finn Brothers show was imminent. I realised that I hadn't actually seen a live Finn-related show since the mid-nineties! (These things were timed badly, obviously. I was in America for Seven Worlds Collide and Neil never made it anywhere near Houston while I was there, either. Meh.) We were quite close to the stage and due to the joy of the St James lower-floor ramp (a boon for the short peeps!) I was able to see quite well. (There was a very loud, drunken Irishman snogging his girlfriend in front of me for a lot of the show but luckily he left to go bond with the front row towards the end. Move it along, Blarneystone!) They came out to old fifties home movies which were adorable and looked suspiciously like those of my family: terrible haircuts and enormous groups of people in little shorts on wooden porches. Song choices were solid, although I would have liked an 'I See Red', but I did get to hear 'Poor Boy', which may be my favourite Tim-penned work. Eddie Rayner came out for 'Bold as Brass' (!!!), 'Message to My Girl' (less schmaltzy on a grand piano, thank god) and 'Six Months...' with the full 'Pioneery' coda. The audience sang along lustily to most things and was in fine voice during the usual 'Four Seasons in One Day' and 'Weather With You' acoustic sing-alongs. Yay us! 'Distant Sun' was particularly good, too, with a lot of the Finn-esque extended outro with add-on mumbling lyrics stuff. Brent, whose familiarity with the Finns is fairly basic, was most impressed. He said he was surprised by how much the band rocked and how good a guitarist Neil is. 'Elvis will have to be pretty good to top that!' (High praise indeed!)

Oh, and I love Tim's blue-rinse hair. Deeply. He looks like Hyacinth Bucket!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Kare Kare this morning: the first pohutukawa blossom I've seen this year. Summer is here!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place

World War I gets me, pretty deep down. So bloody and it meant nothing. Once I had an argument with a friend about Anzac Day. She said she found the glorification of war disgusting. But days like these aren't about the glorification of war. They're about remembering, and regretting. Aren't they? At the dawn service they don't say 'kick ass! we killed some people!' They say

... at the going down of the sun
and in the morning
we will remember them

New Zealand's Unknown Warrior has been brought home from the Somme and is being interred at the National War Memorial today. One of 18, 166 dead in a country with a population at the time of just over 1 million. One dead soldier for every 55 people. Then we lost 8000 to the influenza epidemic. A whole generation decimated.

Sigh. I'm not sure what happened to my determination to be cheerful. Um, does it help to know that as well as being the highest per capita casualties of World War I, we also had the highest per capita rate of venereal disease? At least they had some fun before going over the top...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A New Zealander makes it on to!

(I am utterly obsessed with this site. It's so sad and sweet and funny. It really makes me feel better.)

Now goddammit, even ignoring the meta-depression of the whole Falluja/Iraq thing, could the US military stop being such a bunch of fucking *dorks*? 'Operation Phantom Fury'. OPERATION PHANTOM FURY??? What is *wrong* with you people? Can we get even a *little* ironic self-awareness going on?

I'm willing to go out on a very lengthy limb here and say that if most people were able to appreciate what a stupidly self-important role-playing nerd name that is, the US wouldn't be in Iraq at all. That name is a *signifier*.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Last night we went to a one-day-late Guy Fawkes' barbeque at Jo's in Devonport. Rach had returned from her epic journey to the States and told us tales of her antics around the northeast. She also went to Florida and visited a bar called... wait for it... Masty's. This is, of course, the funniest thing ever and we got a lot of mileage out of it. 'Masty's... where they're always glad you came!'

Much sympathy about the election was expended. Peter and Brent were each pleased to meet another Ted Leo fan. We ate meats and salads. Tuborg was consumed. We laughed immoderately at dumb jokes. Yay.

We live in the South Pacific. It's nice.

Peter's particular facial hair combination is called, he told us, 'the imperial'. At one point during the evening he asked us to bring him his 'blunderbuss' to subdue the restless natives. We were all duly impressed by the thematic continuity of that joke. Well done, sahib.

You can't handle it! It's universal!

Brent thinks a firework called 'Killer Bees' is worthy of the highest approbation - the fingers of rock.

I shouldn't really tell you this is just a sparkler. It looks quite impressive divorced from its context.

Chucks. The shoe of champions.

Spring evenings rock.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Besides, it's a glorious spring day and this is in my front yard.

I defy anyone to remain in a bleak depression after watching the climactic scene of School of Rock. KICK the asses of the audience with your musical genius! REDEEM your loser teacher! CHANGE your parents' minds! WIN a moral Battle of the Bands victory! BE the cutest thing ever! Yes!!

A group of Americans publicly apologising for the election cockup is kind of appealing, too.

My heart will go on, folks.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I have had the best part of a day to get used to things. Unfortunately Bush's re-election (gah! did I just type that?) has coincided almost precisely with the most purely mentally unbalanced days of my menstrual cycle. You want a snappy, crazy, angry, depressed, USA-politics obsessed and often tearful person to discuss the issues with? Oh, I got your irrationality right here, motherfucker! Bring it ON.

This may be extremely stupid - in fact, it's probably utterly illogical - but I've always had a feeling that despite the actions of its government, most people in the USA would eventually be able to work out that some actions and policies are a really huge mistake and they should stop doing them. And so, given the sheer horror of several things which have happened in the last four years at the behest of a US government with no clear mandate from the public, I was pretty much convinced that stuff would work out OK this election (where 'OK' reads 'another millionaire politician, but one who doesn't totally suck, wins!'). Instead, I was blinded by the leftist web and the galvanised grassroots campaigns; I knew that a whole lot of people thought more or less like me, but I didn't take into account how many people *didn't* think like me. And I should have. Look who I'm related to! My American family comes from a town in rural Louisiana so small that it takes forever to get to from an interstate and you can drive through it in less than a minute! (Yet they still have a black side of town and a white side of town, naturally.) I'm not the kind of leftie who never even meets Republicans socially, in other words. Most of my relatives (and Brent's too) have lived in trailers and go to church and sometimes hunt and hate Clinton with a passion and listen to shitty Nashville country and pop out babies like they were going out of style, and yet I still think they're fun to be around. (Oh yes, there's a little portable TV sitting on top of a big cabinet TV in their living rooms. Were you in any doubt?) I don't think they're 'bad people', either, because they've always been very kind to me. Even if I am a dirty commie.

But. But. But. I just assumed things. I assumed that they wouldn't want their children to be drafted, I assumed they thought the war was a big mistake, I assumed they wouldn't want their jobs outsourced, I assumed that Bush not catching Bin Laden would count *against* him, not *for* him, I assumed that Kerry kicking Dubya's ass in three debates would convince them. I wasn't retarded enough to assume that they would care about what people in other countries thought (although I wish they did), or that they would seriously inform themselves about issues and policies (because apparently nobody does. See a previous blog entry of disillusionment down there somewhere).

I missed two completely crucial things. 1) That a lot of people in the USA are terribly scared by the possibility of terrorism, and that fear makes them even more illogical than usual. And Bush is associated with 'strong leadership' in their minds, no matter how ridiculous that sounds to us. 2) That fundamentalist Christians vote primarily based on 'morality'. Yes, they do. They voted in eleven states to ban gay marriage. They want abortion outlawed. They really, really care about this shit. (I, of course, favour marrying whoever and whatever you want. Marry a stalk of celery, if you can get a ring to fit. Go for your life.) They seriously think that two gay men vowing their love for each other in a public place is worse/more important than tens of thousands of lives lost in a war entered into under false pretences. I don't know why they care, and I don't know how to make them stop caring (short of sending them to a new family-friendly San Francisco theme park a la Mr. Show). So this election was won on two truly convincing platforms: fear and bigotry. How do you run successfully against fear and bigotry?

This realisation was what made me so depressed all day long. And my depression has been exacerbated by people in a few web-places I frequent (I'm sure some of you have noticed my snotty retorts therein) saying 'oh, it's just the south, they're a bunch of rednecks down there anyway, the blue states are the enlightened ones'. Look at the numbers. 40.5% of New York voted for Bush. 49% of Minnesota. 44% of California. 46% of Washington and Oregon and New Jersey. 48% of Pennsylvania. Why are you so complacent and superior? And the red states, the ones you're publicly despising for being morons, are filled with millions of *Kerry* voters who are totally ignored. 38% of Texans. 42% of Louisianians and Tennesseeans. My friend in Houston sent me her 'top five things said in the history TAs' office today':

"Is 9:30 too early to start drinking?"
"I wore my ass-kicking shoes today, and I'm looking for a fight."
"Oh for the days of Richard Nixon!"
"I haven't felt this bad since McGovern lost, and at least I knew he was
going to lose."
"Well, I have to go lecture today on how a president can lie to his country
to get us involved in a war in Iraq... I mean Mexico."

Oh listen! Did you hear that? The voices of disappointed *southerners*. This is way more complex than 'the coasts are right, the south is wrong' and leftists acting like elitist asshats is not going to help us in the long run. The Republicans are everywhere, in every state, and they are apparently currently run not by fiscal conservatives, but by fundamentalists who won the rhetoric war a long time ago. How do we take the narrative back? There must be some way, surely... but I'm pretty despairing right now. So many of these people are proudly ignorant xenophobes with a tenuous grasp on reality. Even if they do make a fine turkey pot pie.

It occurs to me during my rare moments of perspective that I live in another country altogether. A country seven thousand miles away in which a group of Bush supporters would look like that Larsen cartoon of the Didn't Like Dances With Wolves Club. But the USA's direction affects us (I was surrounded by depressed people at work today), and besides, I have the passport, the plans to spend Christmas with the Republican relatives, the husband, and the obsession with pop culture and rampant consumerism. I can put on my American hat occasionally. :)

On the bus on the way home today I mentally listed cool things about America which I could break out in all the arguments I'm going to have with people for the next few years. Aretha and Otis and Booker T and Al Green. The Chrysler building. Feminism's second wave. Phil Spector. It's a Wonderful Life. Elvis. Memphis. The French Quarter. Martin Luther King Jr. Singin' in the Rain. Frank Lloyd Wright. Baseball. Tex-Mex. Frank Sinatra. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and Gershwin and Porter and the Great goddamned American Songbook. The New Deal and FDR. Wigstock. Ali. Blondie. The Flaming Lips. The Godfather I and II. Truman Capote. To Kill a Mockingbird. Curtis Mayfield. The Coen Brothers. Smokey Robinson.... The list lasted all the way home for an hour and I never stopped thinking of fantastic and wondrous stuff. It was the only way in which I was comforted at all today.

To coin a phrase, meh. Four more fucking years. Thanks, fundies.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Brent just walked into the library with a bloody lip because someone got out of their car during a traffic-light cutoff-related altercation, came over to his open window, and during the ensuing argument, punched him in the mouth.

I wish to take a moment at this time to discuss the profound and complete arseholitude of most New Zealand drivers. We are a nation of laid-back relaxation, but only until we get behind the wheel, when we become dicks of the first water. Why is this?

Brent says he's happy to take a punch for democracy. But I don't like the look of Ohio or Florida right now...

One word: tenterhooks.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The New York Times with some Auckland love! And St Kevin's Arcade gets mentioned, which is always a good sign.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Maybe I'm nuts, or it's the calm before the storm, or I've been reading too much leftist-web, or I'm completely deluded by my own wishful thinking - but I have a distinct feeling that Kerry is going to pull this one out. (And not just because the Redskins lost.)

In two days' time I may have to take it all back.